How to Train a Child
Parenting is a challenging endeavor for even the most enthusiastic parent. Mixed in with the joy and love for one's children, there are packed schedules, frayed nerves, skinned knees, runny noses, bruised feelings, and an unlimited number of questions—just to mention a few. There are moments of being proud and of being disappointed, laughing and crying; but they are all moments that a parent wouldn't trade for anything if it meant that they were deprived of sharing in the life of the child. So, parents keep hoping, praying, celebrating and preserving even though all that comes their way.
In general the thing that makes most parents so persistent in their task is the realization of how fragile and impressionable a child can be and of how much potential is contained within the life of the child. The child depends upon the parent in more ways than can always be seen at the moment. Often the child learns the good and the bad about human nature from his parents. He learns of love or rejection for the first time from his parent. The parent/child relationship is so much a part of who he is that he will carry what he has learned—be it good or bad—with him for the rest of his life.
In the years that I have pastored and counseled people, I have often been amazed by the indelible impression parents have made on their children. From the couple receiving premarital counseling to the elderly man in the nursing home, whatever mother or father taught them, did or did not do, or modeled before them is ever present in their memory.
The writer of Proverbs shares a great truth with us in chapter 22 and verse 6 when he says, "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." NIV
Without a doubt, all children are being trained by someone in some way. I wish I could tell you it was always a good situation, but I cannot. I see people all the time who are suffering in their lives because of the way they have been trained. Someone's little prince or princess finds themselves constantly sulking and angry because people do not bow to them as mama and daddy did during their childhood. Others are in constant conflict because all they ever knew growing up was arguing and fighting. The problems due to the teaching of poor values, morals, social skills and behavior patterns seem endless. They can be overcome; still, it is difficult.
Nevertheless, many are being taught or trained in a positive manner. Good training always is—even if it brings negative consequences to the student. But more than this, training a child must be intentional and purposeful with a clear objective in mind. In the area of character and morals, the disposition or inclination of the child cannot be what determines the direction his life will take. Left to himself, his inclinations may take him in a negative direction with dire consequences. A child would do well to determine his own interests and the talents he wishes to develop; but a parent must be the guiding force in areas of faith, morals, interaction with others, and more.
It is all about balance and consistency. That is why it is so challenging. Yet, it is a challenge that we parents must accept because—for good or bad—what our children learn from us will remain with them for the rest of their lives.